George Takei: Fighting Prejudice–and Winning.

Courtesy of TED

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Similar to Black History Month and Women’s History Month, I commemorate this month by finding or re-discovering speeches delivered by women and men who help build and shape our nation. Today, I highlight actor and activist George Takei.

Of course, most know Takei’s famous character “Sulu” from the groundbreaking “Star Trek” series both on television and on film. More recently, his quirky, slightly ribald sense of humor has helped cement his presence in social media, with millions of followers on both Twitter and Facebook.

Knowing that some issues are of no laughing matter, Takei is unafraid to use his immense talents to fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and to remember the Japanese Internment during World War II, as well as the heroism of Asian-Pacific American soldiers in that war despite it.

That voice is never more compelling than when he tells his own story. His powerful TED Talk, Why I Love a Country That Once Betrayed Me, uses clear and direct language to describe life as a young boy in an internment camp in Arkansas, and its lasting impact on him. This talk is not to be missed.

At the dedication of the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas (and also during his TED Talk), Takei recalled the valor and heroism of the 442nd Regimental Combat team–a segregated unit–and quoted remarks made by President Harry S Truman at a ceremony in 1946:

You fought not only the enemy, but prejudice–and you have won.

As both activist and patriot, Takei keeps preserving history and fighting prejudice. And he is winning.

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